In 1529, the first Protestants convened to craft a common theological statement, but divided over the words in Luke 22:19: “This is my body,” and “in remembrance of me.” Ever since, there has been a tendency to focus on the manner in which Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper. But what is most important in that verse often gets left out. Jesus said his body is “given for you.” When we take the Lord’s Supper, we receive Christ’s ultimate gift, his body and blood given for us.
1. Christ Gave Himself for Us
Christ gave himself for us at the cross, and the Lord’s Supper is a participation in that sacrifice. It is a fulfillment of the Passover (Exodus 12)—Christ is a our Passover Lamb (John 1:29). It is a participation in the kingdom, as Christ was enthroned on the cross. And in the Lord’s Supper, our position as the body of Christ is enacted as we share the common bread together.
2. We Participate in Christ’s Body and Blood
How can we participate in Christ’s body and blood if he is physically at the Father’s right hand? Do we pull him down to earth in our liturgy? Are we merely remembering him in communion? No, we don’t pull Christ down, but he comes to us by the power of his Spirit in the Supper. We truly participate in Christ because he meets us in communion by his grace.
3. Faith, Hope, and Love
In the Lord’s Supper, we are vitally connected to Christ in faith, hope and love. The Lord’s Supper bolsters our faith as we look back to the sacrifice of Christ to forgive us of sin (1 Peter 2:24). It strengthens our hope as we look forward to the wedding supper of the Lamb that communion anticipates (Revelation 19:6-9). And it renews our love for one another in the church, which IS the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
Reflection & Application Questions
How do you typically think of the Lord’s Supper? In the past, would you fall more in Luther’s or Zwingli’s “camp”?
What are the most important things Jesus teaches us about communion in Luke 22:17-20?
Why has the Lord’s Supper been so hugely important to Christians in church history?
Why is it crucial for us to eat and drink in a “worthy” manner? Who makes us worthy?
Do you believe Christ communes with us in the Lord’s Supper? Why or why not?
As you look ahead to next Sunday, which theological virtue do you need most to be built up for you in the Lord’s Supper? Faith—looking back to the cross? Hope—looking forward to the resurrection? Or love—looking around at your brothers and sisters in Christ? Pray for this!